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The Intentional Family:: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties
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The Intentional Family:: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  209 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Today's family is in crisis. Many diverse factors have combined to weaken its structure in American society: the conflicting needs and schedules of dual working parents; the ongoing fragmentation of our civic, cultural, and religious communities; the prevalence of divorce and remarriage; the advent of technological distractions like video games and computers. What was once ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 1997)
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I really wanted more out of this book. Doherty starts out strong in the first chapter. The book has a good basis and good ideas. Unfortunately, it reads a little like it was written by a high-schooler trying to hit a minimum word count. I recommend reading the first chapter on why being an intentional family is important, and the last chapter on how to be an intentional family. Maybe read the chapter on couples. And skim the rest. Or not. Unless you have no idea how to throw a child's birthday ...more
Affad Shaikh
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Useful. Especially for navigating the culture in the USA when you come from an immigrant culture. However, Doherty is not approaching the idea of intentional family as universal- for instance there is an entire chapter devoted to Christmas, even with the disclaimer that not everyone in America celebrates Christmas. There are also recognitions of other commercialized holidays that are raised, however, the idea is go with the flow rather than battle an upstream current. I disagree with that. If ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was excited to read this book and was hoping for some good insight but it ended up being pretty basic stuff, probably because being LDS the family is so centric to a meaningful life. Basically if you want your family life to be better you need to make spending time a priority. Eat dinner together. Create meaningful rituals (family vacations, dinners, special nights). Go to bed with your spouse. Make time to have meaningful conversations.
Alyssa W
Great premise, but it felt dragged out and long. You really only need to read about 50 pages of this to get the gist, and make the changes that you need. Also didn't age very well - the focus is on het, middle-class white families. My husband and I found ourselves scratching our heads at some of the mild sexism. Would be a great TED talk... not so good of a book.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Good but I wanted more depth and process. Probably the most helpful chapter was the one at the end on blended and single parents families after death or divorce. If your family is already moderately intentional the content will seem pretty basic and intuitive.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
5 star thesis. Would prefer a book that just lists lots of family ritual ideas...
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Doherty offers clear advice on improving and creating family rituals, or in other words, being intentional about family life in order to combat the forces of entropy. "A family, like a canoe, must be steered or paddled, or it won't take you where you want to go."

This book was required for a college course I wanted to take, but couldn't fit into my schedule, so when I was at the bookstore buying books for my other classes, I picked this one up. I first read it before I had children, and while it
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I usually don't like this sort of "how-to" self-help book format. But I like this one. It is well-written and well done with good ideas and helpful illustrating stories. How to strengthen ritual in your family. Some things in this book have really stayed with me, like his discussion of how vacations are important for storing up a bank of shared memories--no matter if they are not the most wonderful and perfect time at the time. And also his addressing how rituals that were dear to parents change ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've been thinking about family traditions and rituals a lot lately as I try to decide what memories I want to make for my children. Life is short, especially my life with little kids in the house. I want to be more intentional about how we relate to one another, celebrate holidays and one another. This book helped me think through my hopes and intentions for my family and make some decisions about how to make it happen.

One of the best lines in the book is a quote from Anna Karenina, "All happy
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book should be The Intentional Family: The importance of rituals in building family ties. This book is all about family rituals. I found the section on couple rituals, and having a weekly date night quite interesting. I also liked the introduction. I didn't feel the need to read the entire book however, since it was many variations on the same theme--that of creating rituals unique to your family to create a sense of family identity and togetherness.
Just re-read this book, and enjoyed reading about how to create rhythms in ours and our children's lives, and honor our partners too. I think it's the kind of text that could help families as they are being formed, but honestly Simplicity Parenting seems actually to do this job better and more richly. This was just my first introduction to many of the rituals and routines that help us make sense of our lives, and gain satisfaction from them.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The author talks about the many ways we can strengthen and unify our families through family rituals. There were simple as well as extravagant ways we can be intentional. That's what I loved most; we could apply some of the suggestions given, there is no need to try to be intentional about everything. We should try to be intentional about what we value most.
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty much summed up in the title. The author illustrates the importance of being intentional when it comes to families...he outlines some key aspects of that...eating together, creating traditions, etc. He also gives ideas on how to improve on each of the areas. I enjoy studying families from an academic perspective so this book was right up my alley.
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had skimmed through this book before when my husband was reading it for a class. It has seriously good basic information on setting up family rituals so that you can grow stronger and foster happy relationships. It's a quick read and it doesn't hit you over the head with it's message. I recommend it.
Stephanie Friant
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great and basic ideas. Can see how creating rituals is helpful for relationships...we have them in the church already! Can't wait until our nice weather icecream shop and walk ritual starts in a month or so...

A list of more ideas at the end of the book would have been helpful to start thinking more about what would work for us. Discussions with a mom's group helped with this.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Read this on the plane to Puerto Rico. Quick read, but I found some good ideas and it made me think about ways I want to spend time with my kids and simple traditions that might be useful glue as kids get older and our lives get faster and more complicated. Helped with thinking about priorities. I recommend it.
Sep 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Written by a family therapist who gives practical advice for how to be an Intentional Family, as opposed to an Institutional or Psychological Family. Basically, the ages of "having to do it for the family" and "having to do it for the people in the family" have culminated in the current age of - if you want to be in a family with me, let's figure out some was to keep it strong.
Oct 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a really good book with great ideas of how to be more intentional about the every day little things you do as a family. It centers around the simple things; bedtime routines, mealtimes, date nights, birthday and holiday rituals. I enjoyed it.
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
although i was glad to have someone articulate the importance of ritual to family satisfaction, i wished he had included more traditions that did not rely heavily on ice cream. like a good valentine's day tradition. preferably involving a costume, but not a french maid costume.
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Hate to put it on the abandoned shelf, but for now that's where it goes. Lots of good thoughts about building family relationshops throught creating rituals and traditions, but I was too busy being pregnant and breaking up two fighting boys to read the whole thing.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It's well written and gave me some good perspective, insight and background for being even more intentional with my family. I particularly liked the section on the holidays, as I'm always trying to create more meaning and less obligation at that time of year.
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the chapters I didn't read b/c they didn't apply to my situation, but I really liked the parts that I did read. It is very helpful to read how to make my decisions more intentional and how that effects my family now and in the future. A very good read.
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this is college for a class and found it even more applicable today. Discusses the benefits to families in establishing daily and yearly rituals as a means to strengthen family bonds and connectivity. Easy read.
Wonderful! Every parent should read this book. So much of what is described is what we have grown up with in functional families, but he has a very defined and strong view of the importance of family and family rituals which is refreshing to see in print.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting a stronger family
I'm only half way through this book but I already have found several ideas to strengthen my family. This is a great book and it has several ideas about how you have a closer-nit family through rituals. Very insightful.
I think this book has some good ideas and is worth reading. I think I was just hoping for more. I wanted more statistics of how family traditions aided families. I wanted more ideas for creating family traditions. Like I said, I think it's worth reading, but I wasn't crazy about it.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Read most of this. Like the majority of self help books, could be condensed to a pamphlet without all the examples. Desperately needs updating (a chapter about the entire family in their devices, please!) but a good reminder on what quality time truly entails).
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book has very practical advice on how to bring more bonding "rituals" into your family despite the challenges of modern hectic lifestyles. All suggestions are very simple, and serve to bring more cohesion between couples and families.
Jane H
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
A great book to increase the rituals of a family, including daily, weekly, monthly, and annual ritual ideas. This book is grounded in pragmatism as well, which makes its application a bit less daunting.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great practical suggestions for families wanting to stay connected during these busy times. I'm in graduate school to become a family therapist and I borrowed this book from the library for some ideas, but it has such wonderful advice that I'm going to buy my own copy.
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